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All Blacks XV player ratings vs Brave Blossoms

By Adam Julian
Brad Weber of All Blacks XV runs with the ball during the international test between Japan XV and All Blacks XV at Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground on July 8, 2023 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)

The All Blacks XV had an entertaining 41-27 win over Japan in sticky conditions in Tokyo with All Blacks XV centre Billy Procter a standout with four tries.


Here’s how the All Blacks XV rated in the second match against the Brave Blossoms:

1. Aidan Ross – 6/10

The All Blacks XV scrum feared better when Ross was on the field. Doesn’t offer the same dynamism around the paddock as incumbent All Blacks Ethan De Groot and Tamati Williams.

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2. George Bell –  7

The 2022 New Zealand Under 20 representative was called into the squad earlier in the week for Asafo Aumua. Bell performed honourably with accurate lineout throwing and solid industry around the field. A good young prospect.

3. Jermaine Ainsley – 7

A strong tour for the former Wallaby. Produced some strong carries and held up at scrum time in the humidity for the most part.


4. Naitoa Ah Kuoi – 8

Robust defense, including a vital turnover when Japan was on the attack. Accurate lineout work.

5. Quinten Strange – 6

Tidy lineout work. In an injury-plagued season, another one to benefit considerably from more game time.

6. Akira Ioane – 6


Toiled gamely on defense but had little impact with the ball in hand. Appears to be a long way behind incumbent All Blacks Shannon Frizell and Samipeni Finau.

7. Billy Harmon – 7 

Usual pest at the breakdown, so quick on the ball. The respect in which he is held was shown in his appointment as vice-captain.

8. Pita Gus Sowakula – 7

Strong defensively but was quieter than usual (tightly marked) with the ball in hand.

9. Brad Weber – 8

Was involved in the lead-up to two tries, kicked a 50/22, and passed with real gusto. A timely reminder by Weber of his quality though sometimes his box kicking was a little shallow.

10. Stephen Perofeta – 8

Regular minutes in his best position are invaluable for Perofeta. Silky skills are a delight to watch and a major threat against any defense.

11. Jona Nareki – 7

Had a hand in two tries and kicked a 50/22. A lively performance from the Highlanders Fijian flyer.

12. Jack Goodhue – 7

Direct running often punctured the hosts’ defense. Lovely touches in the creation of two tries. Might be the last time Goodhue is seen in a black jersey and that’s a shame. A quality performer hard done by injury.

13. Billy Proctor – 9

Dropping a hurried pass from Perofeta was the only blemish in a memorable night for the Hurricanes centre. His exceptional support play and hard work defensively make him a favourite of coaches.

14. AJ Lam – 6

Finished a Love break and kick brilliantly but otherwise had few chances to shine.

15. Ruben Love – 8

Set up two tries, the first with an incisive run and the second with two quick kicks that traveled 80m. A try-saving tackle on Semisi Masirewa, who scored two second-half tries, was another quality moment.


16. Tyrone Thompson – 4 – Wayward lineout throwing invited Japan back into the contest.
17. Ollie Norris – 6 – Resisted a fast-finishing Japanese scrum. A couple of big hits defensively.
18. George Dyer – N/A – Didn’t feature long enough to rate.
19. Cameron Suafoa – N/A – Didn’t feature long enough to rate.
20. Christian Lio-Willie – 7 – Big carry relieved pressure when the All Blacks XV were squeezed at a scrum inside their own 22 when Japan was charging. Busy and bustling from a real Crusaders 2023 hero.
21. Folau Fakatava – 4 – Lacked the spark of last week as the All Blacks XV wanned at the finish.
22. Alex Nankivell 6 – Not a long shift, but solid on defense and made the advantage line with a couple of carries.
23. Sam Gilbert N/A – Didn’t feature long enough to rate.


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1 Comment
Utiku Old Boy 364 days ago

Plenty of reason for optimism from this group when the usual post-RWC evacuation occurs. BTW, I think Strange actually rates higher than a six. I also hope Goodhue goes to France since he brings organization to backline defense and sets opportunities for others.

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William 2 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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